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Outstanding Professor Gives Annual Lecture April 18

Anthropologist and Campus Sustainability Advocate Inspires Students, Shares Research

April 11, 2013

It was one of John A. Bock’s classes that inspired Sama Wareh to find a way to satiate her own curiosity about the world’s cultures.

Bock, professor of anthropology and Cal State Fullerton’s 2011-12 Outstanding Professor, “taught me to push the envelope, make things happen and immerse myself in learning about other cultures from around the world,” said Wareh, ’06, ’09 (B.A. radio-TV-film, M.S. environmental studies). Wareh is one of the county’s leaders cited by this year's OC Metro’s annual “40 Under 40” for her humanitarian work helping Syrian refugees.

“Dr. Bock has a passion for his students, and it transcends beyond the paycheck,” the 29-year-old artist and environmentalist added. “He helps you guide yourself to the questions you need to ask, and he is there beside you to piece them together. He wants to share his ideals, findings about the world, and environmental ethics and standards. And, his passion is contagious.”

Bock, who has a Ph.D. and M.S. in anthropology from the University of New Mexico as well as a B.A. in political science from Rhodes College, delivers the annual Outstanding Professor Lecture April 18 at the Fullerton Marriott. The 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. lecture, “Being and Becoming in Botswana,” is free and open to the public.

“I think my research leads to some new understandings of childhood that move us beyond the conceptualization that grew from our own society,” said Bock, whose research for the past 25 years has focused on the influences of social, ecological and cultural contexts on children’s development among the Okavango Delta Peoples of Botswana. “For instance, I see the distinction between work and play to be a false dichotomy. In many places and times, children’s activities are embedded within a larger cultural context, and they may be participating in things that appear to be play but are actually producing or preparing a child to be productive later in life.”

Bock is “an exceptional teacher and researcher, yes, but also a most effective leader for his department and the campus,” said Thomas P. Klammer, emeritus dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, who hired Bock in 2000. “He makes us proud.”

On teaching, Bock, director of the university’s Center for Sustainability, said: “It gives me an opportunity to connect with younger people, whose minds are alive and open. It energizes me and gets me thinking as well. I always incorporate examples from my own research since it helps make the topic come alive for students.”

Rachel Quaill, ’11 (M.A. anthropology), who recently completed a second master’s degree at USC, agrees.

“I still keep in touch with Dr. Bock because he is so knowledgeable,” she said. “If you have an anthropological subject you want to explore, he’ll give you five sources of research, if not instantly, then soon after.”

By: Mimi Ko Cruz, 657-278-7586

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